Monday, May 26, 2014

The Horrors of War

" …it was a brutal time when brother butchered brother, and men hacked bits off other men…."

" and soldiers with dirty great swords disemboweled soldiers with swords that 
wurnae quit as long…."

"…it was a time when rivers ran wi blood, and oozed entrails stained the heather…."

"… they grabbed his hair and severed it, and then ripped out his tongue, it wriggled like a jellied eel on the grund were it was flung….."

"….they beat his brain tae a throbbing mush and slashed his guts asunder…."

"…and cut his heart out wi a dirk and he died, nae bloody wonder…"

from the traditional highland lament " The Splattered Blood of Oor Slaughtered Sons"  collected by The Curries

Folks songs of countries often serve up an oral history of the effect of historic events on ordinary people.  Scotland has a rich selection, the above giving a feel for the horror of war in such dire times.

Pike and Shotte requires markers to record the effect of combat on a unit and many manufacturers have specific figures to represent these unfortunate peons.  Walter choose to base his on round bases, but stealing shamelessly from the great Barry Hilton & Dave Imrie, I choose to go with hex bases.

These can be scattered or joined nicely together to produce mini-vignettes of the horrors of war.  Hopefully the Rev. I. M. Jolly would not disapprove.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Flags for the Strathbogie Regiment

"...he caused make some ensigns where upon ilk side was drawn a red rampant lion..."

I am playing catch-up with this post. I realised while updating the blog this week that I had forgotten to share the flags for the Strathbogie Regiment, a unit which I completed some time ago and which can be seen here. The great thing about the flags for this unit is that we actually have some contemporary details on their appearance thanks to my favorite 17th century blogger, John Spalding.

Spalding, an Aberdonian Lawyer (but lets not judge him too harshly for that) and part-time soldier in the Aberdeen City Militia was a prolific contemporary observer of current events, recording copious news and gossip of his time in his hand-written blog, "The History of the Troubles..." [click here for free online eBook]. Spalding was a Royalist, but is generally quite balanced in his writing compared to several of his contemporary historians, biographers and bloggers. Be warned though, he writes in old scots english, a dialect similar to the Doric and Buchan dialects that can still be heard in parts of Northeast of Scotland.

Spalding's writings are such a treasure of information because he would often record details which his contemporaries may have thought too trivial or so obvious as to be uninteresting (and to be honest much of it is). However, almost 500 years later some of his observations provide us with wonderful insights. One such treasure for wargamers, re-enactors and vexillologists is his description of a set of flags ordered by the Marquis of Huntly for his forces in early 1644...

"Upon Monday the 15th of April he [Huntley] returned about six hours at even to Aberdeen he caused make some ensigns where upon ilk side was drawn a red rampant lion having a crown of gold above his head a 'CR' for Charles Rex having the motto 'For God the king and against all traitors' and beneath 'God save the king'. There were diverse others made for the barons. The marquis and his followers wore a black taffeta about their craig whilk was a sign to fight to the death but it proved otherwise"


There is one curious line in this quote; "There were diverse other made for the barons". Spalding could be saying here that a range of different flags were made for "the barons" (which I assume refers to all the nobles that fought under Huntly) . However I have interpreted this to mean that a number of similar sheets were provided to all Gordon regiments of 1644. This would include the Strathbogie Regt and Monaltrie's Regt, which later split into Inverey's Regt and Monymore's Regt in early 1645.

For the Strathbogie flags I have faithfully reproduced the text and device is described by Spalding but concede that the exact layout is speculative. Unfortunately Spalding neglects to mention the field colour of these flags and we are left frustrated, wondering how Spalding could take the trouble to let us know that the regiment wore black neckscarves, but could neglect to mention the colour of the flags! 

I have chosen to make one of the flags Yellow, as this seems a good match for a red rampant lion in Scotland, and I have made the other white, for no other reason than it makes the red lion really stand out on the table top. But if you think it through there are not many other likely field colours. 

As with all my flags, they are prepared in photoshop, printed on good quality paper and then re-painted. The finished article can be seen on the Strathbogie Regiment in the photos included and in the full post on the Strathbogie Regiment.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment - Covenanters WIP

I am currently working on a Covenanter foot regiment, the last of my half-finished infantry. Some of you may be aware that Burleigh was not present at Auldearn, so let me explain...

This regiment was bought for use as Buchanan's Regiment at Auldearn, but Roy being the more disciplined painter, has long since completed that unit (which does double duty as dismounted dragoons). So this next unit will be finished as Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment, garrisoned in Aberdeen in 1644, and destroyed by Montrose at Justice Mills in October 1644. 

I needed to give this unit an identity and there is no particular reason for this choice of regiment except that I have always liked it's history. The Colonel was a bit of a buffoon, outclassed by Montrose as a commander, but seemed like a brave and honourable chap who tried his best. This regiment performed well against terrible odds as part of an army that was mostly militia and levies. At Justice Mills, they were retiring in good order, after the Covenanter line broke, when they attracted the attention of Laghtnan's Irish veterans. The Irish gave chase and cut them down before they could cross the Dee to safety. Another plus is that there is a description of Burleigh's colours from Dunbar in 1651 which I have assumed would be similar to the colours he carried 1644.

It's always handy to have another hodden grey regiment so not worried about them getting no use. By swapping out command, these guys could also be used as Sutherland's Levies with the hodden grey uniforms which Sutherland claimed for as an expense from the government in 1646.  Regardless, they have been half finished for a while now as the pike and command were completed well over a year ago. I actually bought the command and some of the pike partially painted from a very talented chap in Spain, who had gotten bored with painting them. So I will take a little time to finish the shot and get them based and into the cabinet before I get cracking with the royalist cavalry.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Flags for the Earl of Sutherland's Regiment

All of the covenanter regiments that have been completed to date, with the exception of Sutherland's, have been done by Roy, and Roy hand-paints his flags on tin foil to terrific effect. Roy's method for flags was shared in a couple of earlier posts including a great tutorial on painting covenanter flags and a later 'gallery' of Covenanter Standards .

Anyone who has followed the Royalist progress knows that I prefer to prepare the flags on photoshop, print on paper and then fully re-paint the design and that is the same way I have approached Sutherland's flags.  They were both made in photoshop and can be printed for use in your own armies. 

The white sheet above is a Colonel's colour with the Sutherland coat of arms in the centre. There is no surviving description of Sutherland's Civil War colours, so this design is purely speculative. The Sutherland arms with there golden stars on a red field is actually an earlier version of the arms which predates the civil wars by over 100 years.

Prior to 1530 the Sutherland family went by the rather grand ancestral name of 'de Moravia', a Norman french rendering of Moray or Murray. Throughout this time, the arms of Sutherland was the 3 golden stars on a red field. 

In 1530 Elizabeth de Moravia, 10th Countess of Sutherland and only surviving heir, married Adam Gordon, son of George Gordon, the 2nd Earl of Huntly and ancestor of Royalist rabble rouser George Gordon, the 2nd Marquis of Huntly, Montrose's reluctant ally. By right of marriage the title of Earl of Sutherland passed to Adam Gordon, who became the 10th Earl of Sutherland. 

From 1530 until the 1800's the Sutherland Arms were actually quartered with Gordon of Huntly Arms. The Gordon Arms can be seen on the blog post for Gordon of Monymore's Regiment. However, given that I was going to place a small coat of arms in the centre of each sheet, I stuck to the simplicity of the original Sutherland Arms. Anyway, the Gordon's have had plenty of attention already, and are set to get a whole lot more when I get to the horse.

Copyright held by

Anyone interested in seeing how the Sutherland Arms evolved over the years can see pictures of them at European Heraldry, an excellent online resource for flag designs.

The Earls of Sutherland were Gordons in name down to 1733, when William Gordon, the 17th Earl of Sutherland changed his surname to Sutherland to distance himself from the Gordon's of Huntly who were incurable Jacobites, and attracting a lot of unwanted attention from the government security apparatus for anyone thought to be associated with them.

The second flag is a traditional Scots Government company colour with blue field and white saltire. The absence of any contemporary record means this is also entirely speculative. Scots company colours of the time almost exclusively used the Scots Saltire, either full size or in the canton, however they were not always the traditional white cross on a blue field. 

Given the absence of information and the strong covenanting tendencies of the 13th Earl, I decided to use the traditional national flag colours. I have used an archaic text for the covenanter script which predates the standardisation of the text inscription in 1650. 

I have also added a Sutherland crest in the centre of the saltire. It was common at that time for nobles on both sides of the conflict to include an element of their family heraldry on their flags, and this flag, although speculative, follows contemporary design conventions.

More photos and information about this regiment can be found in the blog post on Sutherland's Regiment.

Monday, May 19, 2014

First sighting of the Royalist Horse - WIP

It's been a long time coming but finally made a start on the Royalist cavalry. I have been buying the cavalry (mainly Perry Miniatures) in dribs and drabs over the last few years, so after one last Perry top-up order arrived from I finally sat down to prep the models last week. 

Several nights were spent clipping, carving, scraping, filing and gluing to get over 70 cavalry models ready for priming, and by the time this lot were done my fingers felt like they had been in a mincer. This is the least favorite part of the hobby for me, and I have decided that I most definitely prefer building plastic models to prepping metals.

The tray on the left above is all the Gordon Horse required for Auldearn. At 1:10 figure scale I need 2 units of 20 to represent the 400 Gordons that fought at Auldearn on the tabletop. The right hand tray is a large unit of Scots lancers, which will allow me to field one of the Gordon units with lance, and have lancers as an option for our other games. The remaining models are mounted commanders and hangers on for command bases.

This is a pretty daunting painting prospect, but I have taken some advice from Roy who has finished the Covenanter Horse and gave me the benefit of his experience. So these models will be painted in batches of ten to a dozen at a time. Each batch will be a single horse colour and I will work through the following colours (using the relevant Foundry paint triads)...
  • Black
  • Grey-white
  • Dark Bay
  • Light Bay
  • Chestnut
The remaining 10 will be a mix of more exotic horse colours including...
  • Couple of Palominos
  • A grey dapple or two
  • Roans of various hues
  • Maybe a patchy piebald or two for fun
Once the horses are painted I will take care of the riders, with plenty of buff coats and hodden grey. And the best part - only a couple of plaids!

More updates to follow...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Earl of Sutherland's Regiment

"Thair cam also of country people in to him,
the Erll of Suddcrland in persone with his pour..."
Spalding on Hurry's army at Auldearn

As the name suggests this regiment was raised by John Gordon, the 13th Earl of Sutherland, in support of the covenanting government forces. Sutherland was without doubt the most loyal covenanting land-owner in Northern Scotland. An unwavering supporter of the covenant, he first raised this regiment in 1642, due to mistrust of his neighbour, the Earl of Seaforth, who professed loyalty to the government but was suspected (with good reason) of strong Royalist sympathies.

In 1644 the Scots Government authorised Sutherland to raise 1600 men for the Scots Army in England. His troops were ordered to be on the English border at Berwick on March 10, but MacColla landed his Irish in July and Sutherland's men went into the field, together with the other Northern Clans, to oppose Montrose. 

The regiment did not see any major action through Spring 1645, and the Northern force was more of deterrent to Montroses attempts to sway the northern clans over to the royalist cause.  In May 1645, The regiment was at Inverness with Seaforth's Army when it was ordered to Join Hurry's Army for the march to Auldearn. The regiment does not seem to have been heavily involved in the battle but both the Earl and his troops survived the rout and appear to have retreated north in good order. 

Sutherland and his men do not feature prominently in events again until 1650 when Sutherland was part of the Government army that defeated and captured Montrose at the Battle of Carbisdale, bringing to an end Montrose's ill-fated 1650 campaign. In an interesting twist of fate, also captured after Carbisdale was the luckless Sir John Hurry, former covenanter General and Sutherland's commander at Auldearn, who was now serving the Royalist cause with Montrose. Both Montrose and the unfortunate Hurry were executed. Harsh judgement for a professional soldier like Hurry, but his luck finally ran out and this time he was not able to switch sides to get out of trouble.

Sutherland's levies were raised from amongst his northern clansmen but seem to have been conventionally equipped with pike and shot by 1644, however in previous years some of the levies are described as armed with bow. As such I have modeled the unit in predominantly highland clothing, with plenty of plaid, but they are armed with pike, musket and the occasional longbow. 

There are surviving records from 1646, documenting Sutherland's expense claims to the government for reimbursement of the cost of raising his regiment. In these claims he includes uniforms, which suggests this highland regiment may actually have been equipped in the standard issue hodden greys. 

I am currently painting up a unit of covenanter infantry, originally intended to be Buchanan's but Roy has long since taken car of that unit. So this next unit is destined to be finished as Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment, garrisoned in Aberdeen in 1644, and destroyed by Montrose at Justice Mills in October 1644. This unit could also be fielded as a uniformed Sutherland's Regiment. More to follow.

When Roy and I started this project, we looked at the OOB and divided up the painting between us. I took all the Royalist forces, plus 2 covenanter regiments; Buchanan's detachment and the Earl of Sutherland's Clan Levies. Roy managed to knock out Buchanan's detachment as a commanded shot using some extras from his other large covenanter regiments, and it does double duty as dismounted Scots Dragoons

That left Sutherland's Levies for me, and I could see an opportunity to create a unit of highland clan regulars that, with a change of command, could do double duty as both Farquharson's Royalists and Sutherland's Covenanters.


It should therefore come as no surprise that if unit looks familiar to followers of our blog. It is the same unit used for Farqhuarson of Monaltrie's Regiment with the addition of an alternate Covenanter command stand.


The figures are mostly Eureka Highland Musketeers and Pikemen from the 17th Century Scots range, but also includes a number of Perry ECW scots in lowland clothing, plus a couple of old Foundry pikemen from the Perry sculpted Elizabethan range. More photos and details can be found in the blog post on Farquharson of Monaltrie's Regiment.

The covenanter command stand is from Perry Miniatures. I particularly like this officer pointing out the Royalist foe, and thought he would make a terrific highland peer. I have painted him with tartan breeks suggesting he is playing up his highland culture to inspire his clansmen.

The flags include both a white colonel's colour with Sutherland arms and motto, together with the traditional Covenanter company colour of blue scots saltire, in this case adorned with Sutherland's arms. Both colours are speculative but respect the convention of the times and are based heavily on known colours of other scots covenanting lords.


More information will be provided in a separate blog post on Sutherland's flags. Next new unit from me will be Balfour of Burleigh's/Sutherland's (in uniform) covenanting regiment of foot.